For the first time, Israel approves entry of hi-tech workers from PA

November 9, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel’s Cabinet decided on Sunday to approve a quota of workers from the Palestinian Authority (PA) to work in the high-tech sector in Israel.

Photo by Adi Gefen/TPS

The government has previously approved permits mainly for work in construction, agriculture, industry and other manual services.

With the approval of the Ministry of Regional Cooperation-Economy and Industry Ministry initiative, in cooperation with the Defense, Finance and Science ministries, the Israeli high-tech sector, “which has been suffering from a severe shortage of trained workers in recent years, will be significantly strengthened, alongside the boost to the economic and security benefits of employing Palestinian workers on Israeli territory,” the government stated.

The initiative is divided into three gradual phases – up to 200 workers in 2022, up to 200 additional workers in 2023 and up to 100 additional workers in 2024. A total of up to 500 permits for work in the high-tech sector will be issued without infringing on the overall quota of work permits for PA Arabs in Israel.

The plan stipulates that the salary of a PA Arab in the high-tech sector will not be less than 150% of the average salary in Israel, to allow Israeli high-tech companies to directly employ PA workers with advanced skills and as an alternative to outsourcing to other countries, mainly those in Eastern Europe. This will also protect Israeli workers who are employed in the sector.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal to increase the quota in the services and industrial sectors to a maximum of 8,500 PA workers, and a proposal to increase the quota of PA workers in the Atarot Industrial Zone up to a maximum of 3,600.

Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej, of the Meretz party, stated that “the Israelis and Palestinians live in a common geographical space and we must strengthen cooperation and mutual relations between the peoples and the economies. Absorbing Palestinian workers in high-tech expresses this desire for links in all areas. It also opens gates not only to low-salaried workers in services and industry but also to white-collar workers in a leading sector that has been suffering from a severe personnel shortage.”

He further expressed hope that the initiative “will increase the return on higher education in the Palestinian Authority and strengthen the high-tech sector there as a significant growth engine in strengthening the Palestinian economy.”

This decision is “a direct continuation of the policy that we have been leading in recent months alongside the increase in quotas in additional sectors and in strengthening economic-commercial ties with the PA,” he noted.

The Israeli government has approved a list of concessions to the PA in recent months, including building permits for PA Arabs in Israeli-controlled Area C, in an attempt to strengthen it and its head Mahmoud Abbas.

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